Thursday, 30 April 2009

Allo Mate..

I know you're going to cry, but I'm away now till the 10th (I am doing secret work, saving the known world, or at least serving it drinks) I shall tell you all when I get back..

So in the meantime I leave you to contemplate this ad for weedkiller :-) weeds by Aardman... now that IS cool...

Now I have to iron a pile of white shirts..

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Scott says...

My friend Scott has been making me think a lot about music (well maybe think MORE about it) over the past few days, so it might be the subject for the NEXT few days..

I've never downloaded any music at all, actually I do have two downloads (Those first impressions by the Associates and Knock on wood by Aimee Stewart when I complained to a friend I couldn't find them anywhere should you be interested) But I have no idea really what I should do with them, I mean I could buy an iPod but it seems over the top for two tracks :-) and while I'd like an orange one as they are a bit of cool gizmo that I've always fancied owning I've got absolutely no use for them as 1. all the ones I have heard sound pretty horrible and 2. I REALLY don't like this download culture.

I'm not talking here of the 'illegal' Napster/Pirate Bay scene (while I'm with Trent Reznor on that, I'm not going there)But this whole corporate approved pushing and downloading of 'songs'. It seems to me you hear something, some latest fad, you download it, you maybe listen to it twice, until you're bored, end of story.

But what about the rest of the album? Last night I was doing one of my favourite pastimes, sitting with a glass of wine listening to an album in this case The Killers latest one, Day and Age.

There has been a single or two taken from it, but the Killers are a band where you have to listen to the whole thing (in the case of Day and Age, several times) to truly get what they are saying, to feel what the incredibly talented Mr Flowers wants you to feel. There is imagery, passion, loss, desert dust and gunsmoke but you will NEVER EVER get that from some song download, you'll get a bouncy track chosen probably by some record company exec for maximum sales.

One of my all time favourite albums,(Facades by Sad Cafe) was bought because of the killer single, but on listening the *entire* album it became one of those albums that forever changed my life. Today I would not have had that, there is so much more to music then a 'song' and in this new world order you're never going to get another Dark Side of the Moon, Ziggy would be nothing more then an instantly forgotten file 3528 on your iPod if that, pushed aside to make way for the latest wonder from pop idol or some such.

There is good stuff, worthwhile stuff, things that are genuinely better out there but this ain't it.

Like Scott also said, I am glad I'm a child of the 70's

Saturday, 25 April 2009

browser update

Seems like a lot of people I couldn't stand Explorer 8, it's slow yes, but what I really REALLY got tired of having to remember usernames and passwords for virtually all my sites in spite of reducing the cookie thing to low (which I'm not sure is that great an idea anyway)...

So back to Firefox, and sometime in the last couple of days it's had a pretty big update, I don't know what they did, but right now its as zippy and slick as anyone could wish.

I wonder what Microsoft is up to these days, it seems to me that since Bill 'left' (or whatever) they just seem to have lost interest...

Friday, 24 April 2009

Thanks Gary..

This is for Gary Rith, thanks to you I've had REO Speedwagon going around in my head all day...


Has anyone ever tried cancelling a Vodafone contract (or any mobile phone supplier - I'm under no illusions)

I've got bored with paying a contract every month for something I no longer use aside from the odd text message. So after several years (and many resisted blandishments to 'upgrade' my phone and thus lock me in for another year or two) it was time for the party to end.

Vodafone have this cunning policy, first the e mail addresses on their website 'no longer' work, this always puzzles me as been as you get an automated reply you might as well get a proper reply.

Eventually you are directed (if you are VERY persistent) to a webform, which then asks you about a dozen questions and a little box for what you actually want.

Then you get an automated reply telling you you should have a reply within 5 working days (!)

Eventually you get what might as well have been another automated reply saying they will carry out your wishes IF you give them all the information you have already given them on the webform. And are directed back to.. yes the same webform asking the same questions.

So I filled the thing in, again and again, I promise you this happened no less then 7 count them *seven* times. You need the patience of a saint, which anyone will tell you I have not got...

This might give you a clue as to why I was e mailing rather then phoning, like everyone I have had contact with companies like this before and I really don't want to shout at some tele operator in Bangladesh - or Slough (on the whole the Slough operators being a trifle less easy to understand) who is only carrying out 'company policy'

I don't know what Vodafone thinks will happen, that I will eventually get bored, or have a breakdown and decide to keep the damned service rather then deal with these cubicle farm robots.

What did it in the end was demanding the address for complaints and the supervisors name. Suddenly with no further problems I was told my contract would end in 30 (!) days. Now they are trying to tempt me to stay, with yup, whizzy new mobile phones..

Oh and what is this online hell called? Customer care....

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Star Trek/NIN

Warning: Explicit lyrics, ask your parents or authorized adult before viewing this video :-)

Books 'n' stuff

As everyone now knows yesterday was the UK budget presented by his Imperial master of dreariness (never was a man more badly named) Alistair Darling. It's nice to know that the total trashing of the entire worlds economy was nothing to do with him, or his predecessor our much revered,dashing,bundle of fun Prime Minister Gordon (I'm only in it for the laughs) Brown.

So that's OK then, so .. books

While these days I mainly use Amazon for books and quite a lot of other stuff for that matter, nothing can actually beat leaving a bookshop with a carrier bag weighted down with books, all lovely and new and just waiting to be read. That anticipation of which to read first, them sitting there all pristine waiting for you. It's money in the bank to me :-)

As you may have guessed I like Science Fiction, the proper stuff, harder the better not this fantasy look alike (Terry Pratchett being the only honorable exception). Of recent years it's been British writers, I have no idea why but suddenly we have an exceptional bunch of Authors led by the likes of Charles Stross (except your 'merchant' series, I understand why you did it, but it's not me Charlie). Mostly from North of the Border, to my mind they have eclipsed the previous American generations with ease (and any current ones have probably been hoovered up by TV anyway)

The only trouble with this small and rarefied group is being small they collectively can't keep up with demand (i.e. mine) so I'm always on the lookout for new talent to add to my favorites list.

I left Borders with only 3 (the shelves mostly taken up with 'graphic novels' or comics as they were called when I was a lad, produced presumably for those to 'busy' to read)

The last Richard Morgan, which somehow I had overlooked and two new (to me) authors A British guy, Michael Cobley with the first part of 'a galaxy spanning space opera' Seeds of Earth and Daemon by Daniel Suarez of whom the cover gives no information at all.

Drooling at the thought of a new British written Space Opera I started with Mr Cobley.

What I really would like to know is do the established authors who have their comments on the jackets actually read the books? Come to that in the case of Seeds of Earth, did the publisher? I've always understood that it was very difficult to get published. Patently not in this case, it's so clunky and simply amateur it could have been written by me. Actually if it was written in the 50's they'd have loved it.

I got to about page 30 before I could stand no more, the characterisations alone were unreadable never mind the rest. Novels are supposed to be enjoyable not purgatory. I can only assume that the publishers have noticed this fad for British writers and are suddenly so desperate they really don't read them first.

Luckily Daemon so far is brilliant, not really SF more leading edge technothriller at least I'll be getting a good pacy read (and goes a long way to explaining why computers hate me so much :-) But 30% of my Borders buy a washout - thats not good...

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Explorer 8

Well Firefox crashed on me one too many times, so now I thought I'd give the new zippy updated explorer a try. My computer seems to be littered with obsolete browsers and email programs as I try them and find them wanting.

Is it too much to ask that they just work? I don't want them to change my life, just get me to the junk quietly efficiently and *without crashing*

Explorer 8 was obviously doing some pretty fundamental rewriting as it took forever to install, first impressions, clean, tidy and with a few tricks I have yet to try and am not sure I want.

All I need now is yet another email program...

Monday, 20 April 2009


I know there's no excuse, but I have been busy decorating the hallway and cloakroom, and no it's not finished even now, but at least the end is in sight and I am thinking of the next project.

The pine ceilings look terrific, I was doing the edging yesterday and a coat or two of matt varnish will be all that's then needed. So far I'd say the place is looking more ultra fashionable 50's rather then the early 70's which is what I was aiming for, but we'll see..

And I cannot find the right light fitting for the hall. The trouble is compact fluorescent bulbs may be very worthy and *might* be eco friendly but he light they give is so damn *dull*. It looks OK in table lamps mostly, as long as you use a coloured shade but the ceiling, yuk!

I've also been slightly devastated at coming to the end of the mammoth Stargate boxed set which we have to have been watching nightly for the last 9 months (!) Although I hated the last series of baddies (the dreary Ori) The movies though were brilliant, particularly 'Continuum' and I'm thrilled to hear the go ahead has been given to the third (yet to be named) movie and it'll be (yipee!) about Richard Dean Anderson's character Jack O Neil. Sorry, while I loved Farscape, Ben Browder just didn't cut it for me in SG1.

So now we are watching Stargate Atlantis which I never really did see when it was broadcast (and mostly so far looking forward to the 'crossover' that occurs later in the series) I love the Marilyn Manson look alike baddies though :-).

Also looking forward with some trepidation to Stargate Universe which is on its way though it sounds slightly dark and alarming and Robert Carlyle strikes me as a 'risky' lead. We shall see..

Now it's a lovely day and sooner or later I shall have to get to grips with the garden in earnest but right now Sainsbury's calls..

Saturday, 18 April 2009

I knew something would wind me up enough

I knew something would wind me up enough to get back into the blogging swing, and it has.

In case you missed it it's independent record shop day (or some such title). We are all to shed a tear at the closure of so many independent record shops because of the growth of people buying their records in supermarkets, or online, or downloading it.

Well I for one couldn't care less, frankly if the people running these shops hadn't been such arrogant elitist tossers then maybe a few more of them would still be in business.

According to Jarvis Cocker (why do they always trot out Jarvis cocker? To the best of my knowledge he had one hit single, once, admittedly a pretty good one, and has been dining out on it for the past decade. I might take more notice if the said Mr Cocker stood a little closer to the razor and cut, or at least occasionally washed his hair and had more then one suit)ANYWAY according to the said Mr Cocker record shops are the places where we might walk in and hear a piece of music and if we have the courage to ask the assistant that music might just change our lives.

1. In record shops the music is always so loud you cant hear yourself think, never mind remember what you went in there for in the first place.

2. I have never ever heard anything in a record shop that I would even consider walking away with for free never mind actually paying for.

3. Talk to the assistants? They usually have spiky black (or entirely shaved) hair and so many facial piercings it looks like they had an unfortunate (but not unfortunate enough) accident while constructing a nail bomb. And treat you with such utter contempt (assuming they can be bothered to drag themselves away from their 'mates') that you could almost be their parent.

I always leave after buying nothing and with thoughts of conscription (or vivisection) foremost in my mind.

Why should I put myself through that? Amazon don't care if I want Nine Inch Nails, or Abba or even the damn Cheeky girls. I get exactly what I want without sneering or perforated eardrums.

Yup I am getting old and am told often I'm a grumpy old man, but record shops? RIP :-)